National Parks Minister Steve Dickson has today announced the new Queensland Eco and Sustainable Tourism (QuEST) policy, making way for exciting new ecotourism developments to take place within Queensland National Parks.
The QuEST policy replaces the Tourism in Protected Area policy and will open Queensland’s National Parks to all visitors, domestic and international, allowing for development of new and existing attractions and protected areas while promoting best practice operations, requiring certain standards of ECO certification.
“We’ve created a streamlined system to reduce red tape and costs for operators while promoting best practice standards by requiring compulsory standards of eco-certification” says Mr. Dickson.
The new QuEST policy claims to be a clear-cut, efficient and industry-focused improvement on its precursor. The main differences include streamlined application processes, increased term of authority from three to 15 years, extended renewal periods, flexibility for transferal of agreement if the business is sold, and minimum standards of ECO certification with incentives to achieve higher standards.
Mr. Dickson notes that “Queensland has five World Heritage areas, more than any other state, which gives us a unique competitive advantage in both domestic and international markets”. The updated policy makes way for optimisation of the State’s natural assets, while ensuring they be developed responsibly and sustainably.
Queensland’s National Parks and Protected areas currently receive 51 million visits by Australians annually, which sheds some light on their exponential contribution and importance to Queensland’s economy and tourism industry. The new QuEST policy aims to promote ecotourism development in these areas while providing incentive for maintaining a high standard of operation with respect to maintaining the quality and integrity of these sites.
Down Under Tours Cairns director James Dixon stated that the creation of incentives for ecotourism development was long overdue and would be welcomed by operators in North Queensland. “Many operators in North Queensland have been industry leaders in best environmental practices for many years and [QuEST] will encourage more ideas of the highest ecotourism standards.”
The QuEST Policy is expected to be implemented in stages based on location.
To read the press release, click here.
To find out more about QuEST, click here.
Introduction of the new policy will see existing and new tourism operators within Queensland’s National Parks obtain ecotourism certification to meet amended standards. To find out more about ECO Certification, click here.